The Book of Mark: Chapter 13

Mark Part 12 is the first of a 2 part study on the Olivet Discourse.  Part 1 covers chapter 13 and deals with 3 questions.  When will this (destruction of the Temple) happen?  What will be the sign of your coming? What will be the sign of the End of the Age?


Mark 13 is Peter’s account of an event that took place just a couple of days before the crucifixion. Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple area at the end of the day, heading back to Bethany where they were staying. The disciples mentioned how beautiful the city was, and the Lord, as we’ll see here, told them that pretty soon it was going to be a lot different. So, as they progressed, they stopped and four of the disciples came to the Lord privately and said, “Okay, You’ve said that all of this is going to be destroyed. Now, tell us how this will happen.”  And they asked Him three questions. “First of all,” they said, “when will this happen?” Secondly, they said, “What will be the sign of Your coming?” And then, third, “What will be the sign of the end of the age?”

And so, Mark 13 is Peter’s version of the Lord’s answer there, and we’re going to hear the answers to these questions.  

When will these things happen? (When is all this going to be destroyed?)
What will be the sign of Your coming?
And, what will be the sign of the end of the age?

So, those three questions will be answered. 

This passage is called by scholars, The Olivet Discourse, because it took place on the Mount of Olives. Olivet Discourse simply means it was a discussion that took place on the Mount of Olives, and in it the Lord answers these three questions.

You will find this passage in Matthew, as well and in Luke. Each one is just slightly different because each one has slightly different information—not contradictory or conflicting information—but some contain things that others don’t.  Mark’s is the shortest one, and so, in Luke and Matthew you have more.

Matthew, in his account, never answered the first question, when will these things happen? He went right to the second question, what will be the sign of Your coming? And, what will be the sign of the end of the age? In Matthew’s account, all you get is the answer to those two questions.

Luke spends the most time on the first question, when will these things happen? Peter has Mark write some of it, too. So, we’re going to have to skip back and forth a little bit among all three of them to try and get the full context of this. 

But, since we are in the study of Mark, we’ll be primarily here, and we’ll just dart off to these other Gospels to help fill in some of the details. But our primary study will be in Mark. So, let’s begin in chapter 13.  

Verse 1 says:

As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

“Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Now, I want you to understand that they were looking at the temple mount in particular, the buildings and other features of the temple mount which was the centerpiece of Jerusalem. King Herod had, 40 years previously, begun a complete renovation of this—he was not even quite finished yet. He’d been working on this for 40 years. Thousands and thousands of workmen, completely remodeling the whole area, so substantially remodeled the temple that the temple is actually called today, Herod’s temple by scholars today, even though Herod was not Jewish. He didn’t believe in God; he only did this to try to win favor with the Jewish people. When he started off, it was Zerubbabel’s temple that was built 400 years earlier by Zerubbabel and Joshua, the High Priest at the time, and that’s recounted in the book of Zechariah, and also in Haggai.

But they so completely remodeled the temple that you could no longer recognize any trace of it, it was like an absolutely different building. Remarkable work. Herod was a great architect, a great designer. He built huge works around Israel, and none was more ambitious, none was more dramatic, than the temple area.

And so, here’s Jesus saying that before it even gets finished, they’re going to tear this all down.

Now, if you remember from our study when we were talking about Palm Sunday, we went to a place in Luke 19. So, we’ll go there first. If I do my job right here, tonight you will have a completely different understanding of this part of Scripture than you had when you came in here.

I don’t know how much you know already about the Olivet Discourse, but, frankly, the less you know about it the better off you’ll be because it’s going to be way different than you thought! [laughing]

Okay, so first let’s go to Luke 19. We’re going to back up to the previous Sunday, which we know was Palm Sunday. Jesus is riding into town on the donkey.  

Luke 19:41 says:

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

And so, the first thing we learned is, He held them accountable for knowing when He was going to come. And, if you were here for that session, you remember we went back to Daniel 9 and we figured out how He could hold them accountable, because the day was given to Daniel, and Daniel wrote it down in his book in chapter 9. So that’s how He could hold them accountable, and He did; He expected them to know this and He expected them to know this was the day set aside in history for Him to come and present Himself to Israel as their Messiah. 

And, because they rejected Him, He said, “Now all this is going to be hidden from your eyes.  You won’t understand what’s going on from here on. And this beautiful city here that you have and you’re so proud of, is going to be destroyed. When they get all done with it, there won’t be one stone left standing upon another.”

And, if you’ll remember, that’s exactly what happened 38 years later when the Roman soldiers besieged Jerusalem. They put a siege wall completely around it, blocked it off from everybody.  There was no way to get in, no way to get out. They finally, after a period of time, broke through the walls. They went up on the temple mount, they set the whole city afire and, although they had intended to save the temple—the Romans wanted to save it as an example of ancient art.  It wasn’t ancient in those days, of course, but it would be in ours. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world, and they wanted to preserve it.  

But the soldiers, you see, only got paid what they got as booty, as loot, that they could take from the people they captured. The temple had incredible riches in it, even though the treasury had been stripped long ago. The temple itself was a beautiful structure, and especially the ceiling which was several stories above them. The whole sides were made out of limestone, polished white limestone. But the ceiling was made out of wood, which had been covered in sheets of gold. It wasn’t just painted gold like we would do today, it had been covered in thin, hammered sheets of gold and so there was no wood showing. Everything you saw as you looked up was solid gold.

Well, somebody threw a torch in there and they set the place on fire.  Things were dry over there anyway, and these things had been in there for 400 years. So, you can imagine how dry it was. The temple tapestry, you know, the one that was split in two when Jesus died, it was 40-feet tall and as much as eight-inches thick. It was a woven tapestry, so it caught fire.  

Heat always rises. The heat inside the building became so intense that it started to melt the gold that was up on the ceiling. The gold started running down the beams, and down the walls on the sides. The soldiers went crazy seeing all this gold, this liquid gold running down. As soon as the fire was out, they ran in there and they started tearing the temple apart to get the gold that had run between the stones, in the cracks between the stones. And before they were finished, just as the Lord said, there wasn’t a single stone standing on another. And Jesus said, “This is happening because you did not recognize the day of God’s coming to you.” 

That was the day, you see—Palm Sunday was the day in history. All right, so we covered that one in our Palm Sunday study a couple of sessions ago. I want you to understand here that Jesus is repeating that prophecy three days later. On Tuesday now,  He’s repeating it to the disciples. 

Now, let’s read Mark 13:3 before we start off on another little rabbit path.

Mark 13:3:

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

Now, this is Peter’s version of the question. He wants to know, when is this place going to be torn apart, and, how will we know when it’s about to happen? His questions are focused in that period of time, and his version is the one that gives you the names of the four disciples. It’s the only one that does, Peter, James, John, and Andrew. These were the four that were closest to Jesus, like His inner circle, if you will.  These were the ones that He called when He just wanted some private counsel.  

For the full question, let’s go back to Matthew 24. This is one of the places where I want you to put a pencil, or your finger, or something, in there because we’re going to be going back and forth. Matthew 24 is by far the most detailed of the three versions, and we’ll go back there to get detail filled in from time to time.  

Matthew 24:3 says:

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen,

That’s question one, when is this place going to be torn apart?

Question two:

and what will be the sign of your coming

And question three:

and of the end of the age?”

And so there are the three questions. [1] When will this happen? [2] What will be the sign of Your coming? (They understand that He is going to come back) and [3] of the end of the age? (When will the age end?)

All right. What age were they talking about? Ninety-nine people out of a hundred say, the Church. And that’s because [a] we’re the church, and [b] this is in the New Testament. But, the answer is incorrect.  

These are Jewish men. They are in Israel, and they are asking about the future; the only future they know, the future of Israel, and they are asking this of a Jewish prophet. The Church is not in view at all in this, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21. The Church is not in view at all; you won’t find the Church in there. The Olivet Discourse is not about the church. One main reason for that is that this all takes place after the Church is gone.

But we think because we’re in the New Testament, and because we have a Church perspective, that obviously—and Jesus is talking to His disciples, so therefore it has to do with the Church. Well, that’s not true, it has nothing to do with the church. And so any (I’ll try to ease into this) any church doctrine that you hear that is based in part, or in whole, upon what is said in the Olivet Discourse has to be incorrect. And so, if you have heard anybody give any kind of doctrine and they use either Matthew 24 or Mark 13 or Luke 21 as their support for it, it has to be in error.

Now, the very biggest piece of doctrine that is based on the Olivet Discourse is the post-tribulation Rapture. And so, right off the bat, you know that that is incorrect if it’s based on Matthew 24. That’s the first thing I want you to understand; this is not about the Church. This is about Israel.  

I’ll prove this to you before we are done. [laughs] I see the looks on your faces. I’ll prove this to you before we are done.  And if you have questions, please write them down and we’ll talk about them after we finish. But if I start taking questions now, we won’t get more than a couple more verses and we’ll have to quit.  We want to get this study in for the benefit of the several thousand people who listen to this by way of the internet. So, we want to get this study in, and then we’ll have the time to go back and forth about this a little later. But before we’re finished, I’ll demonstrate where I’m coming from on this. This is not just some wacky opinion!  

So, what age is it?

Well, in Daniel 9, the angel Gabriel had told Daniel that 490 years would be set aside for Israel, to accomplish all the prophecies and things that were already given about the end of the age, and where Israel was going, and what the future would be like and everything. And the angel said there would be 490 years. Are you familiar with Daniel 9 so we don’t have to go back to it?  

Okay, when Jesus is standing here talking, does anybody know how many of those years had passed? Four-hundred-eighty-three years had passed; there were seven years to go until everything was supposed to be wrapped up. This is the age that the disciples had in their minds.  They knew that Daniel’s 490 years were nearly over. 

That’s why so many people were looking for the Messiah around the time of the Lord’s birth.  Remember, the first question they ask John the Baptist is, “Are you the Messiah?” And there had been a number of people coming who had claimed to be the Messiah and they weren’t, and everybody was concerned about that. But there was a messianic fever in Israel at that time because they knew that the end of that 490 years period was coming, and Messiah was due.  

They just didn’t recognize Him when He came.

My first contention about all this, is that the age they were talking about is that 490-year age where everything was supposed to be finished.  Let me just remind you of one little verse in Daniel 9, and I’ll read you the purpose of this 490 years.  

Here’s what it was supposed to accomplish, this 490 years was supposed to:

Finish transgression
To put an end to sin
To atone for wickedness
To bring in everlasting righteousness
To seal up vision and prophecy—in other words, all visions and prophecies would come true before the end of this
And, to anoint the Most Holy Place—which is the temple.

Now, you and I can read that and understand that that means the end of the age.

I mean, put an end to sin. Has that happened by the way? No, no! So, this prophecy hasn’t been fulfilled yet. But they were expecting it to be fulfilled, because they knew that 483 of the 490 years had already transpired. The prophecy, so far, was coming true, just like it was supposed to. 

The day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem, two days earlier on Palm Sunday, was the 483rd anniversary of the date that Daniel was told the prophecy would start. So, exactly 483 years had taken place as of the previous Sunday (two days earlier) and they knew then there were seven years to go.

Now, think about that—if they knew there were seven years to go, and they also knew that Herod had been working on the temple for 40 years and it was not finished yet, and now with seven years to go, Jesus is saying, “They’re going to tear all this down.” Can you imagine how they must have felt about that? Can you imagine what was going on in their minds? This is why they came to Him and asked the question; it was outrageous, according to their understanding, to learn that just before it is finished, just before the prophecies are all going to come true, they are going to tear everything down without completing it.  

This, in their minds, was something that was contrary to what the angel had promised Daniel.  They had no idea about the clock stopping when Jesus was crucified. They had no idea that the Church age was going to be 2,000 years long before the clock would start again.

You want some proof of that? Turn to Acts 1:6. 

Jesus is with the disciples on the Mount of Olives, He’s about to be taken up into Heaven. This is after they already know He’s been crucified, this is after they already know that He’s been resurrected; it’s all clear in their minds, now. They understand all of this. They have received the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not given on Pentecost yet—but remember, they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, they received the Holy Spirit the night of Resurrection Sunday. In John 20 ,we learn that. 

That He, when He met with them that night, the night of His Resurrection, He met them up in the upper room and He said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” and He breathed on them. And they received the Holy Spirit that night. 

And so, it’s the Holy Spirit that gives us understanding of these things, right? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 2 the man without the Spirit does not comprehend the things of God because they are spiritually discerned. Well, they had the Spirit now, and so, they were understanding now. As they were standing there on the Mount of Olives (it’s nine days before Pentecost) they’re standing there, and the question they ask Him in Acts 1:6 is:

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

See, they’re still thinking about the seven years to go. “Is it going to happen now, Lord? You’ve died, and You rose again like You said you would. Now, do we go into the Kingdom Age?”  

They were expecting the Millennium to start; they had no idea what was coming, because it had never been taught to anyone. There was no doctrine of the Rapture of the Church anywhere in the Gospels; you can’t find it. 

If you didn’t already know about it, you would never see it there, because Paul was the man who introduced the doctrine of the Rapture 20 years later. This was not taught in the Gospels.  Jesus never said the word Rapture. He never said anything about it; He didn’t teach it to His disciples, they didn’t teach it to us. None of the Gospel writers wrote anything about the Rapture.  

Nobody knew on Earth anything about the Rapture until it was given to Paul 20 years later in  his first letter to the Thessalonians. That’s where the Rapture was introduced on Earth.

So, they were thinking that the age was about to end, and that’s why they asked the question.  Okay, are you a little bit clearer on that? I’ll give you better proof as we go, but without having to mess up the continuity here, are you okay with this so far? All right. Let’s go back to Mark 13 and go a little farther and see how far we get this time.

Mark 13:5. You remember, Mark’s version asked the question in verse 4, When will these things happen? (When will everything be torn apart) And, what will be the sign they are about to be fulfilled?  So, Mark’s questions all have to do with the immediate future. 

You remember, the most often used word in the Gospel of Mark is “immediately.” Peter was an action kind of guy. He had to be doing things. He had to be in the action all the time, so he wants to know, “What’s coming?” “Where is it?” “When is it happening?” “Where are we going now?” And he had to know right away. And so, he asks, “When is this going to happen? And, what is Your sign that they are about to happen?”

Now, in verse 5, Jesus started off like He does in all three of the accounts, with a little summary statement about the future. Mark 13:5 says:

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

That’s just like Matthew’s version, but Matthew’s has a little more detail in it. And it’s just like Luke’s version so far. The three versions start off exactly the same. In Mark 13:9, the Lord went back to Peter’s question and took them back into their lifetimes, and He said to them:

“You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

And this we see in the Book of Acts on several occasions fulfilled. Peter and John stood before the rulers of Israel; Paul stood before a number of rulers, both the Jewish and Roman, and so, this part of the prophecy was fulfilled in their lives.

Verse 12 says:

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

And so, this is now moving into the end of the age, because this is what is happening and what will continue to happen, especially to the Jewish people; children rebelling against parents, telling the authorities on them, and having them taken away. This happened during the period preceding the Holocaust in World War II. It’s happening now; it will happen more often later. He says, “All men will hate you.” The Jewish people have been hated ever since by the rest of the world, and it’s because of Jesus.  And it says, “But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  

Now, let’s look and see what precedes the end. Let’s go back to Matthew’s version for just a minute, Matthew 24, and we’ll get a little more detail there. 

Matthew 24:6 says:

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.

In other words, He’s saying that the period of time between where they were and the end of the age will be characterized by wars and rumors of wars. And indeed, there has been at least one major war in every generation since. There are 40 nations at war today, and so war has been a characteristic of the age. But He says, “These things will happen, but the end is still to come.”

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

And that certainly has happened.

There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.

And of course, that is happening. In Luke’s version, he adds “pestilence” as well. And of course, that’s happening too. 

He said in verse 8:

All these are the beginning of birth pains.

What you gain from that is to understand that birth pangs start off mild and far apart, and progressively become more intense and closer together. So, what He’s saying is, these things that He’s just described to us, at the beginning will be fairly small, and there will be long periods of time between them. But as the end of the age approaches, they will get more intense and they’ll be more frequent.

Now, to give you an idea of how this has happened, how long would it take us tonight if we were to make a list of all of the major problems confronting the world today? I’m not talking about the little ones, I’m talking about the major problems confronting the world today.

If we had that list, how many of those problems do you think we would decide exceeds mankind’s capability to solve them? You see, the problems we’re dealing with now are stacked up on top of each other. They all have long lead time solutions, and many people believe it’s already too late to solve many of them.

For instance, how do you go about dismantling the world’s economy and creating a new one?  How do you do that? How do you make all the people happy about the rate of exchange? And, how do you make sure that people won’t take advantage of other people again? How do you work something like that out? Could you do that between now and the end of the week, let’s say? The end of next week, I mean. Not this week, of course. 

And the problem in the Middle East, how do you stop a 4,000-year old war? How do you get people who have hated each other for a hundred generations to start liking each other?  

These problems are becoming more frequent and they’re becoming more intense. They can’t figure out how to stop the piracy problem, they can’t figure out how to prevent another war in the Middle East, they can’t figure out how to persuade Iran not to go nuclear, they can’t figure out how to prevent China from buying up the rest of the world, they can’t figure out how to get Christians and Muslims to live side-by-side.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. These problems are all urgent, and they are all on top of us right now, and they are all major. A rational person might conclude that we are now in the final stages of the birth pangs. The problems are becoming more frequent, more intense. Wars are becoming more serious. I mean, some of these are absolutely funny, if you stop to think about it. The Secretary of Defense last week said, “The worst thing Israel could do is wipe out Iran’s nuclear capability because then every Iranian would hate Israel.” [laughing] As if that’s something that can be avoided! Well, don’t blame them, they’re just human. They’ve got to say something, you know.  

So, we would say that the problems are more intense. They’re bigger; they’re coming at us more frequently than they were maybe a generation ago. And a generation ago, it was worse than it was a generation before that, and so on. So, you can see that there are some of these things coming.

Then, it says in Matthew’s version—we’re still in Matthew 24:9, now—it says:

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.

Now, in Mark’s Gospel, He was talking directly to them. He said, “You’ll be flogged in the synagogues.” Nobody gets flogged in the synagogues these days, it’s the people who go to synagogue who get flogged, you see. So, you can see the difference in the two perspectives.  This is an end of the age occasion, where in Mark, we had a beginning of the age occasion. 

Verse 10 says:

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

Now, there’s no way in the first century the Gospel had been preached in all the nations. So, this is obviously some sign that we’re approaching the end of the age when the Gospel can be preached in all nations. This verse wasn’t even possible until the advent of things like satellite TV and other broadcast capabilities that allowed you to spread stuff all over the world all at once.

And so there it tells us that we’ve got these signs coming. And they’ll start off slow and mild and then they’ll get more frequent and more intense. And the last one He gives us is this Gospel of the kingdom being preached to all nations, and then the end will come.  

Let’s go back now to Mark’s version because—oh, before we do that let’s go right by Mark, and go to Luke, and we’ll see the rest of the first century story. In Luke 21:8 Jesus replies—let’s do verse 7, because here you get the questions again. It’s the same question we saw in Mark:  

Luke 21:7:

“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”

Jesus starts off the same way.

Verse 8:

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

He ends in verse 9 by saying:

These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.

So far that’s like the others, but look at verse 12:

“But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. 

So now He is taking them back to the first century.

They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. And so you will bear testimony to me. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.

He doesn’t say, “He who stands firm to the end,” there. He’s talking about them, personally.  

Now, of course, they were all put to death, except for John. But, did they all gain life? Did they all stand firm? Is there any account, anywhere in any historical document, where any of the disciples recanted the Gospel story? No. Not one, anywhere. They all, with their dying breath, stayed true to the Gospel. Do you realize what a remarkable thing that is? So, they stood firm; they gained eternal life.

Now, verse 20. It’s still in the first century. It says:

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.

Now He’s taking them down the road to 70 A.D. when the Roman armies, just like He said on Palm Sunday, would come, and says: 

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.

That’s another way you know that this is first century stuff because, who is “this people?” It’s the Jews; it’s Israel. The End Times wrath of God is against the whole world; it’s against all people. But here He’s talking about this people—His people.

Verse 24:

They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations.

That’s what happened.

Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Now, the fact that He is saying until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled means He is not talking about the end of the age, He’s talking about the time between then and the end of the age.  Another important detail here for us to learn is that the times of the Gentiles began with Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2. When Nebuchadnezzar was given by God the authority to conquer the known world, that began the times of the Gentiles.  

And from then until now, there has always been a Gentile power that’s been supreme in the world. Never has a Jewish power been supreme in the world since Nebuchadnezzar. As soon as Babylon conquered Israel in—well, it was over in 586 B.C. Since then, there has never been a time when Jewish authority was predominant in the world. It has always been Gentile authority.

First it was the Babylonians, then they were conquered by the Medes and the Persians. And so, then the Persians held the authority for a couple of hundred years. 

They were conquered by Alexander the Great and the Greeks, they held authority for about three hundred years.  

They were conquered by the Romans, and they [the Romans] held authority from then until now. Because, some faction of the Roman Empire has been in worldwide authority from that time until now. The Roman Empire itself didn’t even disappear. It reinvented itself about 400 A.D. and became the Holy Roman Empire, but it still controlled the world all the way up until the time of the Spanish Armada in the 1500s. The Spanish Armada were defeated by the British in 1588. The British were the world power.  

When World War I began, Great Britain was the undisputed world power and they had colonies all over the world. They subsequently lost theirs because they turned against Israel, and then the United States has been the world power since then.  

Now, we’re beginning to see, in my opinion, the decline of the United States and the ascendancy of the European Union, the so-called Revived Roman Empire; the end of the age. A version, if you will, of the Roman Empire, another Gentile dominion.  Daniel 2 said there is only going to be five. And, the next one that comes, Daniel 2 says, will come not from Earth, but from God.

And that kingdom will defeat all the preceding ones. It will never be defeated, nor will power ever be given to anyone else. In other words, once the Lord’s kingdom comes to earth, that’s it, forever. He’ll be King forever and never will anyone else have the authority over the world.  

The times of the Gentiles began to end—you could see that it was coming to an end when this prophecy about Jerusalem being trampled on by the Gentiles began to be fulfilled. 

In 1967, Jerusalem became a Jewish city again for the first time since the days of the Lord. But it is still being trampled on by Gentiles. So, it’s not complete yet, and it won’t be complete until the Second Coming. So, the times of the Gentiles don’t really come to an end until the Second Coming. But by the fact that Jerusalem is a Jewish city again, we can see that the time is approaching when this will happen.

Now, that’s Luke’s version of the first century events that answers the question, when will this happen?  And so, what the Lord is saying here is, “It’s going to happen, it’s all going to happen in your lifetimes. And, when you see Jerusalem being surrounded by troops, get out of town, because that marks the end of Israel until the end of the age when the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled.”

All right, back to Mark. I hope that what this will do is prompt a whole lot more study on your part. Because, believe me, we could spend all of next week going through this and still not get to the end of it. But we can’t do that, so let’s go back to Mark 13.  

We’re now in verse 14. Here, Matthew and Mark give you the same signal, and this is the signal that answers the second and third questions, what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?

Remember, He said, “You’ll have these birth pangs, but that’s not the sign. They have to happen before the end.” Then He said, “We’ll have the Gospel preached in all the nations and then the end will come.” And now He’s giving you the first clear and specific sign that He’s given you about when the end of the age and the Second Coming, when you’ll know for sure the end of the age and the Second Coming are upon us. 

And He says this; Mark 13:14:

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

Now, some of your translations of that verse will say, “standing where he doesn’t belong.” I think that, from Peter’s perspective, is probably a more accurate translation because the abomination of desolation is something caused by the actions of a person.  

If you go back to Matthew 24:15 it says:

“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’

This gives you a huge clue because, what is the holy place a part of? It’s part of the temple. So, you can’t have an Abomination that causes Desolation until you have a temple. So, by association, the end of the age can’t really be upon us—I mean right upon us—until there’s a temple in Israel.  

Do the Jewish people want a temple today? No. In the first place, only one out of four citizens of Israel, let’s call them, is a religious Jew. The other three-quarters are secular, biological; they are Jewish by race. You know, like I’m Irish, and some of you are Italian, that’s our race. Only in Israel do you have a religion and a race tied together like this. In Israel today, you’ve got lots of Jews who are Jews by race but they’re not observant to the Jewish religion. Only about one out of four is observant to the Jewish religion.  

Israel was founded as a secular nation and it was founded on the principles of socialism, so it’s not a religious theocracy like they had in the old days. They don’t want a temple primarily for two reasons. One, they don’t worship God and so they don’t see any need for one. Two, they realize it would bring the wrath of the world upon them. 

The worst thing they could do, in their minds is, build a temple. And you don’t have to go very far outside of Jerusalem to understand what the consequences would be, how the Arab nations would view the erection of a temple on the temple mount, which they claim is their holy place, where they have the Dome of the Rock 100-feet to the south, and the Mosque of Omar a few hundred feet further on the same foundation, the same platform.  

Do you want to put a temple up there, too? Or what do you want to do? Do you want to destroy the whole Dome of the Rock to get your temple place put up? This is another problem, how do you solve this? How would you convince the Arab countries around Israel that it would be okay to stick a temple right in the middle of their most holy place, where they have made a career out of denying that a temple ever was there? You know, their official policy is, there never was a temple there to start with. It’s always been an Arab holy place in their current—the way they say it. No, they don’t want a temple now. That’s the worst thing that could happen.

The consensus in Israel today is that a temple there would mean the end of their nation. They wouldn’t get anywhere with it. So, they don’t want anything to do with it. You don’t hear any talk of it. The ones who do talk about it are considered to be kooks and radicals,l and they are forbidden by law from coming on the temple mount—forbidden by Jewish law from coming on the temple mount.

Okay. They don’t want a temple. When will they want a temple? Because this says, there has to be a temple there at the end of the age, and I’ll show you some other indications that there has to be a temple there. And there has to be an observant nation, by the way, a covenant nation of Israel at the end of the age. I can show you that in a couple of verses. But, when will they want a temple? I’ll answer the question because I can’t get it on to the tape any other way! Let’s see if I’m thinking the same way you are.

They will want a temple when they are back in a covenant relationship with God, because the only reason to have a temple is to worship God in a covenant relationship. And it has to be an Old Covenant relationship, by the way. They can’t be in a New Covenant relationship with God because if they were, they would be the temple, right? Just like you and I are the temple. And so, they would not only not need a temple, they wouldn’t want one because the temple would be a step backwards for them. What’s the book of Hebrews all about, after all?  

And so, the only reason they would want a temple is if they are in an Old Covenant relationship with God. And the only way they would become part of an Old Covenant relationship with God is if God revealed Himself to them in some dramatic way. Which, of course, is what the Battle of Ezekiel 38 is designed to do; it’s designed to reveal God to the Israelites in a dramatic way, an undeniable way. That’s why the Battle of Ezekiel 38 has to precede the End Times events.

Ezekiel 39, in a couple of different places, says that following that battle, “Israel will know that I am God.” And, He says, “At that time I’ll start bringing them all back from all over the world. I’m not going to leave a single one behind. Before I am done, every single living Jew on the face of the Earth will be back and they will worship Me.” 

And in order to do that, they have to have a temple.

So, who gets defeated in the Battle of Ezekiel 38? A whole coalition of Arab nations that are right now poised against them. And so then, after the Arabs are defeated, it would be safe to build the temple, and there would be a demand for one because they’re in a covenant relationship again and they have to have one in order to worship. And that’s the point, my friends, at which the anti-Christ says, “I can help!” And that’s when the last seven years begin again. That’s when the clock starts running again, when the anti-Christ comes on the scene and confirms a treaty with Israel that permits, among other things, the erection of a temple in Israel.

So, the Battle of Ezekiel 38 (which is coming, but not right away) is a critical sign that we’re in the end of the age. The Lord doesn’t mention it here; all He says, all He talks about is the temple. 

And so, at that point, after the Battle of Ezekiel 38, Israel’s wake-up call takes place, they see with their hearts the Lord again. He starts to remove the blinders from their eyes. He accepts them back at the same place He left them in an Old Covenant relationship. A temple is required for them to worship in an Old Covenant way. They build a temple. The anti-Christ comes and helps them, and really propels himself into the center of the world stage by doing that, because he will finally bring what appears to be peace in the Middle East.  

And at that point, the 70th Week of Daniel, that last, that missing seven years—remember, we said we were 483 years into it when the Lord was crucified. That stopped the clock. And then, all of a sudden now, the temple comes, the covenant reinstated. The last seven years begin. 

According to Daniel 9, in the middle of that last seven years, the anti-Christ will stand in that temple and he will declare that he is God. And this is the Abomination that causes Desolation that is being spoken about here. This tells us—let’s go back to Matthew here, and read what it tells us, so you don’t have to take my word for all this.

Matthew 24:15:

“So when you see standing in the holy place

That’s in the temple.

‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel

Daniel alluded to this happening in the middle of the last seven years.

then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 

This is an End Times application of the same idea that Luke presented to them in the first century.  

Now listen to verse 20:

Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.

Why would anybody care, if they were being told to get out of town, on the Sabbath? Would you and I care about that? No. We’ve skipped church for a lot smaller reasons than that [laughing], even some Bible studies! That’s right.  

Who is the only people in the world who cannot travel on the Sabbath? The Jews. And so, this tells us there has to be a community of believing Jews in Israel at that time. Today, they are about to change Sabbath laws that have only been in place because of tradition.

You know, if you go to Israel today you can’t ride in an elevator on the Sabbath. You can’t get a taxi, you can’t get a bus. Restaurants are closed, all kinds of stuff. They’re trying to change all of that because so much of the nation is secular now, it doesn’t matter to them.

It’s funny, on the elevators, when you go into a hotel, a high-rise hotel in Israel—on the Sabbath day, the elevator automatically stops at every other floor. Because, it’s legal to walk up one flight of steps, you see. So, the elevator—you can’t push the button, that’s work. But you can get on the elevator, and you can stop where it stops closest to your floor. And you may be on your floor, you may have to walk up one or down one. But walking up a flight or down a flight is not against the law, because it’s less than a thousand paces. And so, you didn’t have to press the button, so you didn’t work, and you’re allowed to go up or down one flight, so you didn’t do any work. So, you can get to your room in the hotel without violating the Sabbath.

These are laws over there today.  This one says, pray that your flight not be on the Sabbath, because it’s designed, it’s speaking not to churches but to observant Jews who are forbidden from travelling more than 1,000 steps on the Sabbath. And, if they were told to get out of town, in order to get out of town, they would have to violate the Sabbath. That’s why they are told to pray that they don’t have to do that.

So, this is another thing that tells us that it’s speaking to Israel. First of all, it is telling the people who are in Judea, which was the first century name for Israel. Secondly, it is telling that they are observant, because they can’t break the Sabbath. And so, you see, that’s another verse that has nothing to do with the Church; it has to do with Jews in Israel.

Then Matthew 24:21 says:

For then there will be great tribulation, 

Some of your Bibles might say “great distress,” because like my Bible, the editors were trying to avoid the term Great Tribulation there. And so, they translated the Greek word thlipsis, which is translated tribulation everywhere else, they translated it distress here. That way they can side-step the issue of where the tribulation is, when it is, and what happens.

For then there will be great tribulation, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

So, the Abomination of Desolation is the event that triggers the Great Tribulation.

Now, the Abomination of Desolation has happened once before in history, only once, and it was during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes in about 165 BC, where he erected a statue of Zeus, the Greek god Zeus. He put his own face on it, and he put it in the Holy Place, and he required that it be worshiped. It made the temple desolate, unfit for use.  

And so, when they threw the Syrians out of Israel, they had to rebuild the altar, they had to cleanse the temple. The feast of Hanukkah is built around this event. That’s the one time it’s happened. The only time. And that tells us what it’s going to look like the next time.

Now, Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 said that the man of sin, the anti-Christ, will stand in the temple and proclaim himself to be God; that’s the event. That’s the Abomination of Desolation that kicks off the Great Tribulation, the last three-and-a-half years before the Lord comes. 

And so, He gives them that sign as the specific sign. But by understanding the context, you know the End Times cannot begin until Israel is a nation (that’s the first sign), has a temple (that’s the second sign), and the temple is made desolate by the anti-Christ standing there saying, “I’m God.” That’s the third sign.  

At that point, there are 1,260 days left until the end of the Great Tribulation.  That’s the first specific sign He gives. We have to read the rest by implication, knowing what has to happen in order for those to take place.  

All right, now we’re back in Mark. How’re we doing here on time? We should go faster, all right.

And so, the Lord has said in Mark 13:14:

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out.

In other words, go right now, go in a hurry. Don’t make plans to go, don’t call for reservations. Go right now.

Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

“If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 

Now, some people use that to say that the Great Tribulation is not going to run the full three-and-a-half years, but the Bible is very specific about the fact that it is. And it turns out that we’re probably the victims of a weak translation here. The idea that the Lord was trying to convey here is, if He didn’t put an end to this at its appointed time, no one would survive. That’s the idea.  That’s the thought He’s trying to convey. So, for the sake of His elect, He will put an end to it, before everybody gets wiped out.  

Mark 13:21:

At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

This is quoted again by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 where it says the anti-Christ and the false prophet will gain their authority with lying signs and wonders (or counterfeit signs and wonders, it says in some translations), that would deceive the very elect if that were possible. In other words, the miracles they perform will be so convincing that if you didn’t have the Holy Spirit in you, you’d be deceived by this.

So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

That’s what He said, not what I’m saying. That’s what He says. 

All right, now.  Let’s try to—we’re not going to get to the end of this and I want to do justice to the entire thing, and so I’ll try to find a place where we can stop, and then we’ll pick it up and we’ll finish it the next time.  

But the first thing I want you to see here, first of all, I want to establish something that will show you several other things that you’ve been taught that are wrong, so you can think about this between now and the next time.  

And, to do that, look at Mark 13:24:

“But in those days, following that distress,

In other words, following the Tribulation.

“‘the sun will be darkened,

    and the moon will not give its light;

the stars will fall from the sky,

    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

“At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

And so, this is the second question, when will be the sign of Your coming?  

“The sign of My coming,” He says, “will be following the Great Tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon won’t give its light, the stars will fall from the skies, the heavenly bodies will be shaken, and then you’ll see Me in the sky!” Okay. And then you’ll know! He’ll come with power and great glory.  

And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

In other words, some of them are going to be on Earth and some will be in Heaven. Some of His elect will be on Earth, and some will be in Heaven. Okay so, there will be believers on Earth when He comes back, we call them Tribulation believers, and there’ll be believers in Heaven when He comes back, we call them the Church.  

Now, He said:

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.

The fig tree is often used as a type, or a symbol, of Israel; but I don’t believe that’s the case here. Because they had a saying, “When you see the fig tree get leaves, you know the summer is near.”  And the reason for that was, the fig tree was the last tree to get its leaves in the spring. 

The fig tree did not begin to blossom or get leaves until there had been enough warm weather so that it knew the cold weather was gone. In other words, the fig tree doesn’t start to bloom or blossom until it knows that summer is really here, and therefore, there is no danger of its blossoms or its leaves getting frozen or cold. Therefore, it was the last tree in the spring to get leaves.

And so, the saying they had was, “When you see the fig tree get its leaves, you know summer is near.” That’s what He is talking about; He’s not talking about Israel being born as a nation again.  He’s talking about when the fig tree gets leaves. It’s a literal thing. You don’t have to make a symbol out of it. 

There’s plenty of other proof that Israel has to be reborn before all this can happen, we’ve looked at some of it already. Israel has to be a nation. It has to have a temple. It has to be observant. You don’t need any more proof than that. We’ve already shown that Israel has to exist as a nation under God before the end of the age can come. 

And so, this fig tree thing, you don’t have to see this as a parable. This is just Him saying something that was a true statement.  

In verse 29 He says:

Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 

What? “The sign of My coming.” That’s what He’s been talking about.

Verse 30:

Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

All right, now here’s a problem: “this generation”—there are three possible answers for this.  “This generation” could be the generation of people He was talking about/to. 

First century—did the Second Coming take place in the first century? No. Were all the promises of Daniel 9 accomplished in the first century? No. 

And so, we can eliminate the first century people from the equation, “this generation.”

Now, the same word that is translated “generation,” is also translated “race.” And so, a second possibility is that He could have meant this race will not pass away meaning, “The Jewish people will survive through whatever happens until I come back.” 

And, in a sense, that’s true, isn’t it? The Jewish people have survived. And so, you could say, yeah, that makes sense. But He’s talking about signs of His Coming. And the fact that the Jewish people have survived for the last 2,500 years are not a sign of His coming.

The third possibility is, He’s talking about the generation alive when these things happen. This generation, “The generation that sees these things I’ve been talking about.” That’s the meaning I prefer. That means that the generation alive when these things begin to happen will see their fulfillment. Now, that makes sense in history because all the First Coming prophecies were fulfilled in the span of a generation. 

You know, when John the Baptist came and started the ball rolling on the First Coming, all that was fulfilled in the span of one generation. 

But notice what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say, “This generation will be replaced by the next one,” it says, “this generation will not pass away.” That’s two different things. What He’s saying here is, the generation being born when these signs start to take place, those people will still be alive when they are all fulfilled.

Now, there’s a difference in time between the length of a generation and the length of a life. For a lot of years, people have confused “generation” and “lifetime” when they read this verse.  

Because you see, if you go through the Bible and do all the math, the length of a generation is 40 years. All the different people, you take all the genealogies and things like that, you look at all that and you find that the length of a generation is 40 years. But a generation is not a lifetime.  

A generation is a span of time between a man’s birth, and the birth of his first child. And in Biblical times, that was about 40 years, because it took a long time in those days before a man could afford to have a family.  

In the first place he had to have a job. He had to have a house built, and he had to be able to support a family and it took a long time for that to happen. So typically, in Biblical times, the man was about 40 and his wife was still a teenager. There was a huge span between women and men in those days, because a woman was groomed all of her life to be a wife. So as soon as she was biologically ready to be a wife she was married. A man had to have a job, he had to have a house bought and paid for and built and ready for her before he could be married. So, the men were typically quite older than the women. If you add it all up, the length of a generation is about 40 years. 

But what’s the length of a life? According to Psalm 90:10, a lifetime is more like 70 years. In fact, the Lord said in Psalm 90:10, a man’s life will be seventy years. [laughing] And then He said, “But, if he’s real strong, he might get to eighty!” But, that’s a Biblical lifetime.

You’ve all heard the predictions of the Second Coming based on 40 years from when Israel was born, right? In the first go-round there was a book called, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Has To Happen in 1988” because that was 40 years from the time. But, you see, that was false; it didn’t happen then, because the math was wrong.  

The Lord never said that the Second Coming would be a generation after Israel was born. He said, “The people being born around the time of Israel’s rebirth, would still be alive when I get back.” That’s more like 70 years. So, if you take 1948 and you add 70 years, you come to around 2018, which I think is more likely.

Of course, the Church is Raptured long before the Lord comes back, at least seven years before.  So, if you just took the minimum of seven years, and subtract that from 2018, you get 2011, and that’s about when I think it’s going to happen. I think we’re in the last days. I think we’re down to the end of the last days. I think if you’re going to do anything before the Lord comes back, you’d better get started.

Okay, I’m going to bring it to a close there, because we’ve got restrictions on how long these CDs can be and when I edit this down, we’ll be about right. The next time we get together, we’ll talk about the three parables that the Lord spoke of in the Book of Matthew that take place at the end of the age, at the time when He returns. And you’ll realize that you’ve been taught incorrectly about all of them.

They are the Parable of the Bridesmaids, the Parable of the Talents, and the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats—which is really not a parable. Sheep and Goats, Bridesmaids, and Talents. I will be willing to wager that you have been misinformed about all three of these things.  

And I’ll tell you right now, just so you’ll come back next time, not a single one of them has a thing to do with you. And any teaching that is based on one of those three, that is supposed to be motivating you to do something, is in error; any teaching that is based on one of those three that puts your salvation at risk, is in error. But you’ll have to come back next time to find out why. [laughing] 

Because that’s a whole night all by itself. But I want you to get those because they are very critical for our time. These three stories were written for our time, but they’re not written for us.  

So, if you want to read ahead and study ahead, just to get some extra credit, Matthew 25—or, the rest of 24 and all of 25. Start with the Sheep and Goat Judgment, then it goes to the Ten Virgins (the Bridesmaids), then to the Parable of the Talents. Take those three and remember what you’ve been taught about them. Then be prepared to forget it all.

So, we’ll have a closing prayer now because, I think you’ll agree, we need it , and then I can take any questions that you have about what we’ve covered so far.